FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward’s mayor says weather is improving but still wants residents to remain indoors.
“Please stay at home, please stay at your shelter,” Broward County Mayor Marty Kia said. “We are still encouraging residents to stay off the roadways.”
And while the National Weather Service downgraded Broward from a hurricane warning to a tropical storm warning, Mayor Kiar said the county can still experience tropical-storm-force winds until midnight.
Weather quickly deteriorated at around noon as the other bands from Hurricane Matthew began to rain down on southern Florida.
“We expect that heavier winds will begin mid-afternoon some time and there’s a potential for hurricane force winds some time around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. tonight,” Kiar said at an earlier press conference. “So that’s why it’s very important that folks stay in their homes, stay in the shelters, at this time.”
Roads were temporarily closed starting at 3 p.m. and Kiar stressed for residents to stay put.
“We don’t want people on the roads after 3 p.m. After that time what’s important is that if your not in a shelter, we want you to stay where you are, stay in whatever residence you are in, and that’s probably the safest place for folks to be,” said Kiar.
The county has 11 shelters – seven general shelters, three special needs shelters and one that is pet friendly.
Kiar said those shelters, weather permitting, will close Friday.
As for school, Kiar said he spoke with the superintendent and classes will start Monday.
The mayor is hopeful Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Port Everglades and transit services will open Friday – but gave no specific time frame.
He added that the Broward County Emergency Operations Center will remain Level 1 until at least Friday morning.
Any residents that still have questions about the storm are encouraged to call 3-1-1, which will stay open all night.
Kiar said that FPL has predicted that there will be wide spread power outages throughout the county. In anticipation of that, the utility has brought on an additional 10,000 personnel to help restore power.
“Because of our preparations, we have pre-deployed all of these workers who will begin work on restoring power as soon as it is safe to do so,” said FPL spokeswoman Juliet Roulhac.
For those who have already lost power.
“Please know that our crews continue to work and will do so until it is unsafe. We want them to be safe as well and, again, as soon as the storm subsides we will have our teams out there evaluating how many outages we have.”
Anyone who sees a downed powerline is encouraged to call 1-800-4-OUTAGE or 911.
Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Chief Joe Fernandez said conditions may calm as Hurricane Matthew moves up the coast. However, do not go outside to assess damage to your home until the storm has completely passed, conditions are safe and the “all clear” has been given.
“The emergency rooms have shown a great uptick injuries as we get stressed and rushing to complete things we start to make errors. So please plan your time, take a deep breath and we can avoid many injuries that don’t have to happen,” said Fernandez.
As soon as the storm has passed, emergency responders will immediately begin to survey damage on a grid-by-grid basis throughout the county and coordinate resources for recovery.
Kiar said preliminary reports show Broward has sustained very little damage.
At this time, no other press conferences are planned.
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